The kids at my church are with us in the sanctuary until just before the pastor preaches. Then he calls them forward and prays for them, and the congregation says, “May God bless you as you worship.” The children respond, “May God bless you as you worship,” before heading downstairs for children’s church where they sing, read a Bible story, and respond to the story together.
The last Sunday of the month is different. On that Sunday all the kids (except for the ones in the nursery) stay for the entire service. Before the sermon they lead the congregation in worship using one of the songs they’ve been singing downstairs. I love the way the children’s worship leader makes this happen—it’s not a choir, it’s not a performance, it’s just all the kids that happen to be there that morning coming up front to show the adults how to sing and do the motions for one of their favorite songs.
This Sunday the song involved twirling, stomping, jumping, clapping, leaning, and praying—all motions that the kids chose for the song. I was up front with them, so I could feel their energy grow as they saw that the adults really were jumping, clapping, and twirling right along with them!
Most of the time we send kids downstairs to worship during the sermon because we want them to experience God’s story in a way that engages their lives in a meaningful way, and to express worship with all the zeal that children have. But once a month, when we bring a little taste of children’s church upstairs for everyone to experience, it sends a powerful message to the kids: Your songs are important too—important enough for everyone to sing! Your praise is pleasing to God! Your time downstairs is real worship!
A church full of twirling, stomping, clapping, jumping members is quite a sight, and one that sends a memorable message! What about your church? What spoken and unspoken messages are sent to the children? What can we do to welcome kids more fully into every aspect of church life?